Here’s what you call those invisible Google people, pt. 1

A few days ago, I posted the question: What do you call people who don’t show up on a Google search? I.E. what’s the name for the category of person who doesn’t generate even a single page hit?

Well, the nominations are coming in! A few possible ones suggested by Andrew Wu:

The Ungooglable
The UnRanked

… and some sent in by Lewis Gault:

the ungoogleables

Anyone got other ideas? Send ‘em in!

Meanwhile, a recent comment by my friend Maura — noting that most of her high-school friends don’t show up on Google, which is weird because “wouldn’t they at least be in some sort of online dean’s list or student newspaper?” — made me wonder: What types of things do get your name online?

We could almost work out the categories. For example, if you i) have your own web site; ii) work for a company that lists its employees on the corporate site; iii) post to any discussion boards; iv) belong to a club or association that lists its members online; v) speak or attend any event that puts its stuff online; vi) etc. etc.; then you are going to crop up on a Google search. The point being, you have to avoid doing and being an awful lot of things to stay off of Google. Though the number of North Americans who don’t appear on Google is probably still quite big, it’s diminishing every day.

Here’s a fun speculation. I wonder if at some point in the far future, the world of data (the Internet, though by then we’ll call it something else, probably) will be so huge and all-encompassing that there will be a final person who is the last one to not crop up in a major search engine? Kinda like a noosphere version of Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (or the Left Behind series, heh).

Or, even more fun, will there be people who try as hard as possible not to be Googleable? That may not be as nutty as it sounds. After all, many people going on a first date — or blind date — Google their hookup in advance, to find out as much as possible before l’affaire. Smart employers do the same. So there are tons of good reasons you may want your second existence as a gun freak, leatherman, flat-earther, Extropian or plushie to stay off the radar.

Of course, dig this: The converse is also true. If you don’t appear on Google, it can seem a little unnerving to the rest of us! It’s like being The Man Who Didn’t Exist, one of those bit characters on the X-files who doesn’t have fingerprints or a Social Security Number or whatever.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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